Identity Crisis -MLP FIM-


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Growing Up, Growing Away

Beyond some half-forgotten memories, Spike the Dragon has lived with Twilight Sparkle for as long as he can recall. Distant memories of play freely intermingle with the drudgery of a hard day's work. What's a self-motivated adolescent to do when today looks just like yesterday and tomorrow doesn't plan on changing?

Maybe, somewhere underneath the scales and above the wild magic, Spike can figure out who he is, more than just being a baby dragon.

But unless he takes tomorrow in claw, it won't be any different and he'll still just be Spike.

-Disclaimer: Hasbro owns all recognizable characters, most unrecognizable characters, and no, I'm not profiting off of this.


A young dragon, purple of scale and frilled with green, settled himself as best he could upon a seat that was too long, too wide and much too deep.

Eyes of emerald gazed without sight as trees flickered by as the train carried him and what little he called his own to a distant locale to the east.

Fear gripped his heart while trepidation filled his mind. Regret hung like a miasma through his thoughts, held at bay only by the steel of his resolve and the self-consuming flame of need.

His listless gaze drifted to the emptiness of his cabin.

Even as the train inexorably ran to its destination, the drake wasn't certain of his own. He didn't know what he needed.

Food, certainly. Shelter would be nice as well.

No, this flight, this journy was to feed a rather different maw. To satisfy a rather strange hunger.

The youth needed to know, beyond his own doubt, beyond his own dreams and fantasies. He needed to know that how he'd been living, if what he knew and that which made it was truly how he intended to spend the countless days before him.

Perspective, in a way.

It's a small word for what he was looking for. He didn't really know how to find it, though he knew what it was. Always had he lived as a dragon, though rarely had he understood what it meant. Fairly, he assumed a dragon he would always be, though the trappings of a wyrms claim he hardly knew.

How does one describe the scent of lillies on the wind, or the sound of a brook babbling over flat stone upon a shallow in a river?

How would one of reptillian visage explain a desire to have fur? A wish to see a feast in a field of daisies instead of soothing beauty? To know beyond any shadow of doubt his true talents, the purpose for which he was born? Instead... Instead of being hatched?

Idly the young dragon shook his head, dispelling the iridescence in his gaze, the shadows from his thoughts.

A claw ran across the top of a suitcase nearby. Truthfully, it was the only other thing in the cabin beside himself. The presence of which did nothing to calm the turmoil of his mind, though it bolstered the steel within his heart.

He wasn't walking into the dragon's den (A corner of his mind giggled at the irony of the statement) empty-clawed at least.

A hoof rapped harshly upon the window to his cabin, the shadow of a conductors hat bobbing behind the curtain.

"Half an hour to Baltimare! Everypony get their things together, all children under hoof! Wouldn't want anypony getting left behind now!" The shadow ducked out of sight, repeating itself to every closed door and open family upon the few cars of the train.

The dragon locked his gaze upon the window. Emerald eyes met emerald eyes.

"Lookin' good, Spike. Real good, you got this!" The sharp grin that responded was brittle.

No, he really didn't.

I've seen a lot of this sort of story. Usually it involves bashing or something along those lines. My intention here is to try and explore Spike trying to discover himself and step out of being just an assistant. Just a side character.


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The first few lines are a little bit too much of purple prose, though it gets better after that, with some fairly poignant metaphor. If it's the introductory scene to your story, deliberately avoiding using Spike's name until the very end is an acceptable writing device, but only this once. Doing it more than once or twice per story becomes bad writing.

I would extend the metaphor of Spike's 'rather strange hunger' some more and play off the issues he's had with his greed, by linking it to something like 'wanderlust' to find himself.


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Eh, you're not wrong. That's how most of my ideas initiate, later on it gets more condensed.
I'm up to 26 chapters at fimfiction. Pushing out one a day. On quality it has its ups and downs, pretty sure I've got the few dedicated readers there confused while I'm dangling puzzle pieces off to the side.


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I can probably give it a read later on (of course, if you crosspost everything here, even all at once, that'd be great too. I've been posting craploads of comments and reviews lately)


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Chapter Two

-Disclaimer: Hasbro owns all recognizable characters, most unrecognizable characters, and no, I'm not profiting off of this.
The young dragon had a rather loose plan of action for when he'd disembarked from the train. He'd certainly have loved to have an itemized list, detailing his every action and their consequences measured in seconds. Unfortunately he lacked the degree of foresight needed to make such an itinerary when dealing with the unknown.

His caretaker, he dared not think her name lest his flagging heart wilt further at the thought of her anxiety, her fear and disappointment, was equally third-eye blind. To make up for it, however, she tended to schedule a particularly large block near the end of her list for an extended anxiety attack.

So long as she didn't need to expend the allotted time for that, she was ahead of schedule.

The young drake held his suitcase against his chest for a moment, turning from side to side before brushing away the glowing aura on the handle. His plan may have been loose but his own ignorance could hobble it before it so much as began.

Green eyes locked on the brown of a nearby unicorn now walking nonchalantly between a pair of earth ponies. New saddlebags astride his barrel. An opera mask wearing his flank.

Theft, too, would cripple this journey.

"Excuse me!" Spike called after the unicorn. The stallion paused before turning around. Sweat beaded down his neck as sharp teeth and sharper eyes looked up to meet his own. "You look like a proper, well to do kind of unicorn. Could you tell me who the best jeweler in town is?"

"You lookin' for young Zyng Awl, kid? Best darned jeweler north of Apple Loosa if you are." The unicorn spoke as though from the back of his throat. A thick 'H' hung about his every mumbled syllable.

"The best north of Apple Loosa!" Spike cried with genuine enthusiasm. "He's gotta have some real tasty gems. Where do I find him!"

"About three block down south, at the intersection of Dawn and Willows. Runs one of the corner shops. What are you gonna... Naw, I don't need to know. Geckos and all." The last few words were mumbled, clearly meant to be heard while seeming polite.
Spike had seen this game played out since he could walk.

"Thanks Mister. Say, are those saddlebags new? They look like a genuine Rarity." They were, Spike had been assisting in the boutique the day they'd been made. They were also paired with a very distinct hat sitting on a very different pony's head.
"Echo, deary, those look just like your saddlebags..."

"Don't mention it, kid, now scoot." Sweat poured from the stallion's face like a broken spigot as the small dragon waved goodbye and toddled away. The whispers of the crowded station reached a fever pitch as countless eyes focused on him.


"Help! Thief!" Spike grinned to himself as he walked away from the station. Backhanded compliments were practically a currency to those who'd lived among the spires of Canterlot. Given away charitably by the well to do and the climbers beneath them.

Half-whispered insults though? The pastime of peasants and plebeians.

Spike traveled two blocks without consequence, and the third while only being nearly run over by a charging mare after her blank-flanked foal.

Blend's Pharmacy and Drug, Debutante's Delightful Bakery, Jim's Gym and Bejeweled were the names of the four stores.

Spike took a wild guess and crossed the road to enter Bejweled. It was a cramped little store, mostly taken up by the glass counter at front where the mysterious Zyng Awl stored his finished wares.

"I be out! One minute!" The jewelers accent was hard to place, his equuish painfully rough.

Spike reviewed the works on display while he waited. Rounds and Ovals made up the majority of the available stock, not a single cut gemstone was anything but diamond though.

His eyes narrowed as the proprietor, a pony, stepped out of the back room. He could swear he'd seen these before, that underneath the cut and dazzle the pendants and horn rings were familiar.

"Ah, Dragon yes? Not seen one in week. Here for snack? Is best selection in Equestria!" Spike chose to be the bigger dragon and ignore the shoddy copy work and the sign saying that every piece was original.

"Actually Mr.Awl." Spike hefted his suitcase onto the counter and opened it, revealing rows upon rows of rainbow gemstones, light reflecting off fine edges beyond the means of most.

Being that a fair few were opal, this isn't quite hyperbole either.

"I'm here to sell."

Author's Note:
I put a pun in there. It's not terribly difficult to spot.


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Chapter Three

-Disclaimer: Hasbro owns all recognizable characters, most unrecognizable characters, and no, I'm not profiting off of this.
Spike liked Fillydelphia. It was a nice place, very modernized. Paved roadways, buildings reaching out to the heavens. It even had a...


Thriving isn't quite the appropriate word for it.

Manehatten nearly bordered the badlands, separated by a great swamp and was where Dragons typically touched down in Equestria.

Fillydelphia was where they came to live.

With that in mind, Fillydelphia had the single largest concentration of dragons this far north, including a subsection of the city referred to as "Dragon Town".

He'd visited it before. Bustling, loud, energetic and unruly on the surface. It wasn't until he'd come and gone from the human's world a few times that he recognized what had been bubbling beneath the surface there.



Between the stone dragons marking the entrance he could almost smell it, wafting on the wind like ashes lingering from a rain-doused fire. It wasn't strong here, where the two cultures mixed. Deeper though, the buildings got rougher and the lingering oppression more raw.

He didn't know what the source was.

Well, no, he hadn't known what the source was.

He'd trekked north from Baltimare through the freshwater tidal marshes, like countless drakes before him had. It had taken him almost two days of trudging chest deep in mud and muck to reach the same place as a six hour train ride.

Coated in filth, deliriously happy to be free of mosquitoes he'd received a somewhat frosty welcome.

Well, frosty and confused. Recognizing the vested unicorns as police officers had set them backpedaling just a little bit. Asking if there was anyplace he could get cleaned up left them positively perplexed.

Spike hadn't given it any thought. He wished he could keep not giving it any thought.

"I'm sorry, but we don't accept Bits here."

He'd been aimed at Dragon Town, told he could probably get a hotel room for cheap since he was so little.

The third building into Dragon Town and on the left had been a hotel of sorts. The rooms went down instead of up. Plumbing was limited to the first floor only. The dragon stationed at the register was almost wider than he was tall, his scales red and his horns were, of all colors, pink.

"So what do you accept?" Spike could feel his blood pounding behind his eyes. He was pretty sure he already knew the answer.
"Gems." Of course he did. Of course the dragons of Dragon Town would trade in a currency such as gems. Dragon snacks. Which he no longer had any of.

The pounding was almost painful.

"Can I at least use your bathroom?" He was a maturing dragon. His voice did not sound whiny. He did not wheedle.

"Um..." The dragon blinked one eye, then the other. "Why?"

Spike closed his verdant green eyes and pinched his brow above his snout, trying to push back the pain pulsing in his skull.

"C'mon, I'm totally covered in mud. This is disgusting."

The receptionist leaned forward, taking a long, loud sniff and sitting back.

"That's some good quality loam. Scrape as much of that as you can into a bucket and I'll let you use one of the stalls."

"Fine, whatever." Spike hopped up, snagging a key with a tag that said Seven out of the older dragon's claw and rushing to the right into a room marked with symbol of a shower head.

He considered, briefly, just strictly showering and letting his filth drain down the pipes. However as odd as the request was, it wasn't difficult or harmful and he didn't see any reason to burn unnecessary bridges.

Scraped clean and steamed fresh, Spike stepped out of the bathroom almost twenty minutes later.

"You took so long. Do you have the mud?" Spike dropped the bucket on the desk, as well as the key to the bathroom. "Ah, good. Good. Did you want a room for the night?"

"Sorry, no gems." Spike wasn't sure how to respond to that. He'd just had this conversation. With this same dragon. Not half an hour ago.

"Oh. That's too bad. Always sad to see ones like you so little." Little was fine with Spike. Little was better than tunnel vision and every attempt at conscious thought being overwritten like misspelled words in a journal.

Better than shattering everything he could see so he could take offal and junk to forge his horde.

"I'm sure somedragon else will like being covered in this mud though. It really keeps the smell down." And just like that the dulled throbbing behind his eyes regained intensity.


It took Spike almost three hours and he went through four hotels before finding one that would rent him a room.

In the pony side of town.

The receptionist had been nice, focused. A couple of slightly more probing questions than was strictly polite for small talk. He'd managed to get her to give him the paper from this morning, too.

He was making a solid effort to not wonder why she had been surprised he'd asked for it.

He was not going to let today unsettle him.

He wouldn't.

He had too much to do tomorrow, anyway.


Metal shod hooves walked crimson into the station.

Black iron creaked acid green and masked eyes stared unblinking.


The head moved east and pulled, the peytral followed.

Dreams gleamed off broken barding.


The ponies of Hollow Shades made a pointed effort to ignore the




The same as it ignored them.

It's how little towns kept on keeping on in a world of magic and chaos after all.


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Chapter Four

-Disclaimer: Hasbro owns all recognizable characters, most unrecognizable characters, and no, I'm not profiting off of this.
At six days since his departure, Spike was frustrated.

And his savings were down by a third.

Food was expensive, it turned out.

Though he'd never planned on living off of it indefinitely, he'd hoped it would hold out longer.

"I'm sorry." was a phrase he'd heard almost two dozen times over the last few days, followed by some variation of-

"You're just not qualified."

"We've actually already found somepony."

"We've just filled that position."

"You don't have the experience we're looking for."

"It doesn't seem like you'd be a good fit."

Each time he'd made it to the interview process for a job. It was disheartening in the extreme, feeding into the flames of his frustration before it would sputter out.

He'd seen what such mindless actions would do, the hurt is caused between friends. He hadn't really made any here yet, but he didn't need to ruin his chances of that before he got started.

He wasn't sure what his reputation here was, not quite yet, but "Violent little upstart" was not where he wanted it to be.

Spike pushed those thoughts back as he dejectedly walked away from his last attempt. Little Getty's delivery service was not going to be for him it seemed.

Sitting on a bench in front of a small shop called 'Lustrous Delectables', a bakery, he reviewed this morning's classified ad.
The majority of which was scribbled over and blotted out.

He leaned his head back dropped the paper on his face, dulling the glare of Celestia's Sun.

Maybe, if he looked hard enough, he could find something he missed. Or find what he was missing to make ponies want to hire him. Either would be fine with him.

His eyes were starting to go blurry trying to focus on something so close to him when he heard somepony cough. Politely.

It cannot be stated enough that Spike spent his formative years watching nobles. Listening to nobles. Experiencing nobles.

He removed the newspaper from his face, folding it in the process and looked at the individual demanding attention. A pony, a stallion and a unicorn. Off white coat and wearing a brown striped vest. Spike couldn't see his cutie mark.

"What can I do for you?" Best claw forward, always.

"You the dragon looking for work this side of the wall, yeah?" Spike nodded. The unicorn's voice was decidedly neutral. Quietly even but certain. Confident.

"That's me. My name's Spike!" He hopped down from his seat and held out his claw. He was mutely surprised when the stallion pushed a hoof against his palm and shook.


"Well, come in then. I'm not going to have an interview out in the streets." The unicorn turned around and walked into the shop, allowing Spike a glance at his cutie mark.

A trio of cherries.

"You will refer to me as 'Mr.Lemon' while we're here, am I understood." It wasn't a question, but Spike nodded nonetheless. His brain caught up with the fact the he was being lead a step later.

"Yes, Mr.Lemon." They went around the counter in the empty storefront and up a set of stairs, passing a small bathroom and a pair of empty rooms before reaching the stallion's office.

"You've been turning quite a few heads since your arrival, Spike." The chair behind the desk in the center of the room moved with neither a sound or glow. This was a familiar action for the unicorn.

"There aren't many dragons who try to find jobs this side. Cultural difference, I suppose." Spike heard the slur unsaid.
A paper fired out of a nearby cabinet, stopping dead in front of the young dragon.

"Fill that out." It was a job application, standard form from any one of the countless business management books found in every library in the land.

"Yes, Mr.Lemon." Spike still had his own pen. It had barely dropped onto the paper before he was interrupted.

"What experience do you have in baking? Can you at least do the basics of baking bread?"

"For the last two years I was somepony's personal assistant. I was in charge of keeping her schedule, cooking her meals and performing basic upkeep in the house. She had a sweet tooth and I can't think of anything but fresh bread to go with some meals." Spike stared at the blank column where he was supposed to list his education.

How do you explain that you were tutored out of illiteracy and then left to your own devices and interests without sounding like some foolish bumpkin?

"And what meals were best paired with fresh bread?" The unicorn was much less harsh in tone. What part of Spike's last statement brought that about, he wasn't sure.

"Tomato soup was the most common request, though certain vinaigrette salads called for it and it was always better for most meals and sandwiches than presliced and bagged." References were pretty spotty as well. He didn't know any dragons who could vouch for him, nor did he really have any personal friends not shared with...


He needed to get himself over this. It was worse than trying to convince himself to give up on Rarity.

"Your cooking expertise is certainly surpassing my expectations. You mentioned your master having a sweet tooth. What sort of desserts did you make for them?" His breath hitched. His claw froze.

"Blue... Blueberry muffins, scones. She had a preference for dark chocolate in her pastries over milk, though it wasn't uncommon for me to bake a full service if her... If her friends were coming over." Spike didn't think about the rest of the job application form, he'd filled out well over a dozen variants of the same sheet over the past few days.

"Hmm..." Lemon pulled the paper out from under Spike's pen, a straight line pulling from it and held it in front of his face.

"Well, everything looks to be in order. We open at eight, so be here at six tomorrow morning. If you pass my test, you'll have a job. Understood?"

Spike smiled and fired off a salute. Future Spike would deal with the internal turmoil and conflict when he was back in the hotel room and alone.


Shadows skittered away and leafs curled in silent cringe. Animals fled while inherited instincts screamed.

The grass quavered as a nightmare of fire crawled through them in a way too primal and alien for the trees to remember.

Empty iron did not rest.

A roar. Afraid but unwilling to back away.

A bear backed against a tree. The green of long rot walked inexorably.

It charged. Steel bent. Iron shattered. Green stained red.

Red slowly drained to green.


Author's Note:

I know where I'm going with this. I have no idea how I'm getting there, though.

Note for TFF: I'll post the rest tomorrow. Been busy today and I'm bushed.


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Chapter Five

-Disclaimer: Hasbro owns all recognizable characters, most unrecognizable characters, and no, I'm not profiting off of this.
Dots at the edge of the paper slowly grew in number as a young dragon took his time looking for words. He wanted this to sound mature, educated, clear and eloquent.

A difficult feat when his extended vernacular was mostly second-claw or pulled from comic book context.

"Dear Twilight"

A letter was hardly difficult to begin, but truly starting it brought his mental gears to a halt. Did he tell her why he left? Explain what he felt? Describe the three ponies he'd hired to take his place?

"Dear Twilight"

What he felt was a maelstrom, his thoughts falling as drops of rain amidst the winds of confusion.

"Dear Twilight"

That was why he left. He needed some time to drag it down to something he could figure out. Everytime he felt like he was getting a handle on himself, something new would pop out of the woodwork and throw everything back into turmoil.

"Dear Twilight"

Hiring his own replacements had been an entirely separate nightmare. Not to mention doing it under a very tight time table and getting everything else ready. He'd been lucky, more so than he'd care to admit, in finding three ponies who would actually meet his expectations and had the right temperments.

"Dear Twilight"

Just the right mix of patience, grounding and motivation. Too much or too little of any of those would be disastrous in serving Equestria's youngest Alicorn.

"Dear Twilight.

I miss you."

Spike set the pen down. He'd have all day to figure out the rest.


Water, flour, yeast, eggs, honey, oats and cheese and so many other things Spike didn't want to think about.

He'd passed though. He had a job. He had to be up at an hour even Celestia complained about, but he had work.

Mixing dough, kneading it, baking it, keeping track of jam and jelly supply at the counter and a whole host of other small things.
Spike had noticed something though.

Not a single dragon had entered the store. He hadn't even seen any pass by the storefront window.

Spike hung up his apron, caked and smeared with enough raw materials that it too could be baked in one of the ovens. With how good it smelled, he'd bet no pony would even complain about the apron in the middle.

"Throw it in the washbin, Spike. We'll have a fresh one out tomorrow." Said Mr.Lemon's voice from behind the dragon.
Spike still didn't know his first name.

"I must admit, you surprised me. Diligence, little dragon" One hoof rubbed the top of Spike's head next to his frills. "Pony and dragon alike need more of it, I say, but you've got it in spades."

The pony levitated his own stained apron off, cleaner than the dragon's though that hardly said much, and threw it into a large cloth bin at the end of one counter. Spike unhooked his apron and did the same.

The old pony was much less harsh after a full day of work. Maybe he enjoyed a full day of work, or perhaps he was simply happy to have a quarter of his work split off.

Brash as he was, arrogant as he could be, Spike knew he hadn't taken even half of an experts work load.

"Say, Mr.Lemon? I was wondering something." With enough flour on him, the pony looked like a paint instead of a solid brown and at first glance was less intimidating. His eyes, though, were sharp as ever.

"Well help me clean up while you talk then. Can't have the missus at home dilly-dallying all night." A broom was pushed into the dragon's claws while a bucket was filling itself under a sink. Spike immediately went to work sweeping the flour, dust and countless other things into a pile.

"I saw a pair of unused rooms upstairs. I was uh... I was wondering if I could rent one?" Spike got quieter near the end of his request, the look in the stallion's eyes was intense.

"Not liking it in Dragon Town, are you?" That was, Spike felt, an accusation.

"Couldn't find a place to stay there." Spike pushed the broom a bit too hard, flour rising into the air. "Sold my gemstones for bits in Baltimare and well wouldn't you know it? Dragon town dragons don't want bits."

"No." Mr.Lemon said, a curious quality to his voice. "They don't."

"So I've got a bank account full of money accepted everywhere in Equestria. In Yakyakistan. In the Crystal Empire. Even all the way over in Griffinstone! And it's no good." Spike looked to the sizable pile he'd built up, mirroring the frustration that had built up in his voice.

"If you haven't been staying in Dragon Town, where were you sleeping?" The unicorn's voice was softer now, something in it reminded Spike so strongly of Fluttershy that the coals in his chest went cold.

"The Thorny Rose over on West Pillar street. It's cheap and the beds are clean." But not so cheap that they'd rent out his room while he was out. Spike thought he knew the difference between cheap, and cheap.

"Three bits." The stallion's voice was sharp. He wasn't negotiating.

"What?" Spike paused, kneeling on the floor with a dustpan in claw and looked up, confusion clearly written across his face.

"Three bits off your hourly wage. Instead of ten, you'll get seven. Both upstairs rooms are yours, but I expect you to keep the entire upstairs clean, my office included. But one thing you'd best keep in mind." The stallion bent low, his eyes level with Spike. He could smell the honey and oats baked into the bread they'd shared for lunch.

"No. Parties."


Elsewhere, on a train heading north, a pink pony screamed.


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Chapter Six

-Disclaimer: Hasbro owns all recognizable characters, most unrecognizable characters, and no, I'm not profiting off of this.
A little over fifty years ago, Princess Celestia had finished organizing and passing into law a standardized education system in Equestria.

It held the benchmarks of what could be called a basic education standard for her little ponies. A basic understanding of relevant historic literature both fictional and non, mathematics skills including multiplication and division and a basic comprehension of the magical arts.

Particularly talented ponies could find their way into Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns in Canterlot or up in Cloudsdale for the Wonderbolts Preperatory Academy for Young Fliers.

No such school seemed to exist for Earth Ponies.

Or at least Spike hadn't heard anything about it.

Either way, there was something of a formal education system in the land. It didn't have publicly accessible records beyond the basics of pass or fail. Class rankings weren't listed, specific grades weren't listed, all it said was that this pony or that pony passed school.

One of the local newspapers had an article in it though. Talks were going on in Canterlot to make the system more inclusive, expand the breadth of education offered.

The young dragon wanted to feel ambivalent. He'd never been to school. He didn't know anything about classical literature. His mathematics were just fine if he did say so himself. What use would he get out of knowing how pegasi flew or unicorns cast spells?

He wanted to be ambivalent, but he knew he couldn't. He hadn't tried to keep up with Twilight after he'd been assigned to be her assistant and the young filly's breathless questioning of theoretical dwemer construction of untested spells flew right over his head.

He wondered if she was disappointed back then, back when Celestia assigned him to the bright eyed and excitable little mage.
He wondered what she would think now, if she knew what he was paying for out of his first paycheck.

"That'll be eighty-five bits, please. If you'd like, we can throw in a pack of pencils and erasers for another three?" Mid-level basic education books. Math, reading, writing, science, magic and history. He'd picked up most of the basics in the past through association rather than anything resembling actual study.

"That'd be great, thanks!" Something cold and ancient felt a sting of displeasure within the small dragon, however he wasn't too concerned about his pride feeling insulted over something as small as a third of his pay.

It was something his boss told him after a few days, that he'd been reluctant to hire the dragon because he hadn't been sure he even knew how to read. No references, no education history. Spike simply wasn't earmarked as being a potential boon instead of a risk.

It was how most dragons came to the city. Most didn't feel bothered to change it, either.

"Say?" Spike stopped halfway to the door of the bookshop, hardly able to see over the stack in his arms. "Are there any other books you'd suggest?"

"Why yes, actually." The earth pony in charge of the store stepped out from behind the counter. He had a deep red coat, his cutie mark being an old style grandfather clock. Spike followed behind him as he began searching through the rows and stacks for something. "I don't believe I saw any notebooks in your purchase there. If you plan on working through those, you're going to need some scratch paper. Now where did those get off to..."

The pony shuffled around a few books before moving on, seemingly unsure of where things got around to in his own store. It took almost five minutes before Spike heard an 'Ah-ha!' from the pony.

"There we are." The pony held up three notebooks with spiral binders. Two were plain, colored blue and red. The third had an action pose of Daring Do swinging off on a vine. "These oughtta do you just fine, yes-sirree. Four bits for the lot of em, Mister Dragon."

"Wow, thanks! I didn't even think about notebooks." Spike gleefully paid for his new acquisitions and headed back ho-
To the bakery.

Back to the bakery. He'd get these organized in his room with the rest of his purchases. Between those and these, he still had a fair amount of bits left. At least enough to pay for food for the rest of the week.


Spikes enthusiasm petered out instantly when he opened the math workbook. The addition and subtraction didn't look too bad, but it was four digits long.

He opened it up further to a page in the middle and blinked at what he saw.

Why were there letters in the math problem?

What was a sin?

Why did ponies worry over dark magic with something this evil taught in their schools?

Spike closed the pages back to the first and grabbed a pencil.

He wasn't gonna let some numbers beat him!

Pencil met paper and scritch-scratched late into the night.


A hollow snap echoed in the woods. Dry branches covered the ground. Celestia's Sun had no purchase here.

Wet, ragged gasps were the only other sound as the forest watched silently.

Dry, cracked lips did not hide white teeth.

Red teeth.

Green swallowed to its core.

Empty eyes turned towards screaming. Blue eyes wide in fear. Horn sparking. Hooves running.

Fur fell to the soil. Iron stained the ground black. Steel walked with weight anew.



The crystal walls were gleaming, polished to a shine. They were familiar now when not so long past they felt cold and barren.
Bone deep exhaustion had settled in long ago but that was held at bay, just enough, by the relief of coming home.

Hooves pushed, grand doors opened, three sets of eyes looked to her eagerly from within, a matching salute on them all.

"Um, pardon me but who are you?" Three new ponies, none that she expected.

"We" The ink black stallion in the middle stepped forth, his orange mane blocking his eyes. "are the replacements Spike hired. I'm Raggy, the janitor."

"I'm Pumpkin Spice. Spike hired me to be your chef." The pink pegasus said from his left. Her bright orange mane was cut short.

"And I would be Slide Rule. My outlined duties involved maintaining your accounts and keeping your library in order." Said the last, a green unicorn mare with glasses and her mane done up in a bun.



Well-Known Member
Chapter Seven

-Disclaimer: Hasbro owns all recognizable characters, most unrecognizable characters, and no, I'm not profiting off of this.

"You look like something walked on out of Tartarus and crawled up your backside, Dragon." Mr.Lemon wasn't pulling his punches today, just like he didn't the last workday.

Or the day before that one.

Or any of them.

"It did. You. And ponies like you. You monsters made it. You and your math." Spike was squinting, his eyes were puffy and he was walking with a shuffle more akin to a zombie than any member of the living.

"Old Inkblot mentioned he'd had his first serious Dragon customer over the weekend. Can't say I'm surprised it was you though." An apron dropped over Spike before another wrapped itself around the unicorn.

"What's the difference between serious customers and not serious customers?" Spike held his claws under running water as he waited for the tap to heat up. For the bread it needed to be hot, but not scalding or it would kill the yeast.

Although he'd been told they'd be making a lot of flat breads next week when a bunch of Namby Pamby Prance Ponies started showing up for some convention.

"Inkblot tends to sell either smut or graphic novels when Dragons deign to come out of that over grown cave and patronize him." Mr.Lemon had... Strong opinions. About everything. And he was the right mix of cranky and old that he didn't care who heard him. "They like the blood-dark garbage that shows off a lot of, eh, scale if you follow my sayin' so."

"Wait. Do you mean in the smut or in the comic books?" Spike was tentatively familiar with adult literature. Purple prose, he'd heard the term once, and too much of it in the few books he'd tried reading. He'd stick to adventure and fantasy, thank you.

"Both. Neither. I don't know. Inky mentioned it and not a one of us wanted to ask. The lousy pervert can shut up the business association in a jot just talkin' about what ponies come in to buy. You think dragons are into some twisted reading though, you won't believe what minotaurs buy." Spike did a good job, holding in his curiosity. He'd almost finished mixing the first batch of dough when he asked.

"What do minotaurs get?" The unicorns eyes gleamed. His grin was dark. His very expression radiated a foul humor akin to the likes of Discord.

"Self help books."


Smoke trailed from Spike's nostrils as he repressed another burp.

He hadn't actually planned this far ahead.

Pawning off his hoard to fund an adventure to discover who Spike was?


Making sure his replacements knew the basics of their jobs?

Also check.

Knowing how to find a job?

Not check.

Discovering his focused upbringing hadn't prepared him for finding a job?

Also not check.

Having some plan for telling the head of their nation that he'd up and walked off from the job she gave him?

Very not check.

He nearly gagged at the feeling of ashes coating the back of his throat.

He picked up a pencil in claw during the momentary reprieve of another failed sending and squinted at the page in front of him.
Science wasn't as bad as math. It really just boiled to saying 'This works because not magic. Here's how!'.

Like how wood burned when metal melted. He knew that it happened. He made associations, which were part of this scientific progress or something, like thinking that this or that were kinds of metal, so they should melt. Or like trees were plants, so plants were like trees, so plants burned except when they smoked and smoldered.

Because they were full of water locked in these blocks called cells and cells were-

Spike turned his head to the side and stuffed his face into a metal bucket while he choked down another burp.

He paid for these books. He refused to destroy them if he could avoid it.

Pencil again met paper as the drake mentally shoved aside the discomfort behind his eyes and behind his tongue.


Twilight Sparkle, alicorn, purple and... Frustrated was currently the best approximation of her mood.

Twilight Sparkle paced a steady beat in her library.

She had good reason to be, after all. Her friend and assistant had disappeared from his home two, almost three weeks ago. Judging by the letter she'd found wedged in her inbox underneath an ad for anti-wrinkle cream and above a letter from some Neighgerian princeling claiming some ridiculous relation, he'd resigned.

He'd cited his main grievance as being a lack of personal development as well as a few minor notes about regretting being unable to keep up with the growing workload around the castle.

She'd noticed, of course, the way dust had collected on some of the books on the higher shelves in the library. That the variety in her diet had reduced to foods that didn't need to be particularly cold or hot if she was taking her meals outside the dining room.
That Spike had been spending less and less time with Rarity while trying to keep up with the castle.

She didn't particularly enjoy watching him work his claws to the bone, as a point of fact she was planning on expanding the staff of the castle.

She just wanted to talk to him about it first. A conversation she'd intended to have this morning.

Instead she had, as politely as a grumpy, sleep deprived alicorn could at any rate, terminated the temporary contracts Spike had written in her absence. The three ponies were informed they could reapply with everypony else if she was intending to hire.

They'd been good sports about it, all things considered. Pumpkin Spice had been teary eyed, upset, but she hadn't made a scene.
A month spent trying to find Changelings while parading about on a 'Royal Tour'. They found changelings. They befriended changelings. Cake had been involved in there somewhere.

The pony, actually. Missus specifically. Though with Pinky Pie about the pastry was definitely involved as well.

So Twilight Sparkle was tired. Twilight Sparkle was hungry. Twilight Sparkle was worried, and upset, and frustrated because she couldn't tell if Spike was getting any of her letters or if he couldn't answer or if she was even doing the spell right!

So Twilight Sparkle paced.

Author's Note:

I've sent a message to a fella on Deviantart about using something they drew for coverart.
I'm this bad at writing. Do you really wanna see how bad my art is?


Well-Known Member
Chapter Eight

-Disclaimer: Hasbro owns all recognizable characters, most unrecognizable characters, and no, I'm not profiting off of this.
Gray and black, stone and steel and glass molded into labyrinthine walls impaired it.

Broken metal scraped across cracked sidewalk.

Close. So close.

Salt. Water. The smell of burning stone.

Shutters closed and drapes dropped upon its onset.

Tattered red was left in its wake.

Wet, rasping gasps burbled from its depths.

Almost ready.

Magic sang.


One little dragon glumly stared at the sign in front of him.


Pony food, fibres, grains and flowers just weren't working to silence the rumbling from his belly. He didn't have the bits to buy enough precious stones to comfortably do the job.

Well, that and his other expenses. He was getting himself an abacus and that wasn't up for debate.

So he'd priced some quartz at a do-it yourself department store near the edge of town. Two days ago he'd hunted it down after work, finding it after it was already closed. Yesterday he got in with just enough time to actually look at things for a few minutes before getting shoo'd out the door.

Today he brought the bits to cover a couple cubic hooves worth of the common crystals. Though apparently the time it took for him to go upstairs, dig his money pouch out from underneath the pile of partially completed textbooks and rush here was too long.

Spike kicked a pebble on the sidewalk, frustrated at his luck or lack thereof. It bounced once, twice and came to rest against a pair of stout red claws.

Spike looked up, and up, and up into unpleasantly familiar eyes.

And a fang filled grin.

"Ow." Spike's legs trembled as he took a step back. He knew this dragon.

Garble. A base bully of the worst sort.

His was the face that Spike saw when he heard about the evils of dragons long past. He was the villian of nightmare and dream alike. A foul, petty monster uncaring of the basic sanctity of life yet lived.

"A little baby dragon like you should be careful." A pair of legs stepped out from behind the adolescents silhouette. One white and one gray, revealing themselves attached to another pair of dragons. Garble stepped forward and gripped Spike's cheeks, tilting his head up and forcing him to meet his eyes. "Dragons like me and my friends here, we might take offense to that."

"I'm shorry." Spike mumbled as best he could while unable to move his jaw. From the corner of his eye he could see the last few ponies out in the evening hustling off, eager to leave before a fight broke out.

"Aww, he's sorry. Did you hear that, Turq? He says he's sorry." The red dragon shoved, sending Spike tumbling to the ground. "You ain't sorry yet."

Spike barely rolled out of the way in time to avoid a massive crimson claw that gouged fresh grooves into the cement where he'd been.

"My flight got cut in half thanks to you, squirt. Ain't no dragon wants to follow me after I let you and those pony losers go!" He scrambled to his feet without a second to spare. Dragon's breath licking at his tail. His legs were barely pumping when he ran straight into the shins of one Garble's lackeys. Thin and boney. The gray one.

He didn't get an opportunity to get back up before red claws were wrapped around his neck. He was lifted almost straight up, his claws, small and needle-like compared to the daggers gripping him failed to find purchase.

"Don't worry, Speck. This is going to feel so good." Sharp teeth and foul breath should have held the whole of the purple dragons focus. "For me."

Instead of the glowing green thing hobbling right behind his would be attacker.


The first thing the 'Teenage' dragons noticed wasn't the noise of things scraping behind them.

It was the smell.

In pony culture, meat was not served. Period. End of discussion.

Even the dragons of Dragon Town observed this particular societal understanding.

For the most part.

The omnivores had no distinct need for biological fare, should they have access to a steady supply of gemstones. The magical incinerator that was their flame readily converting stone and crystal into raw, unfettered energy.

That said, youthful rebellion would see the bucking of many trends before whatever upstart got some sense knocked into them by an older, wiser dragon.

So Garble was familiar with the taboo of living food. His lackeys, too, had indulged. One furtive instance of stale, rotted flesh that was embedded into their memory.

The overpowering aura of spilt blood brought their jeering laughter to a halt. The sound of tearing muscle pulling loose drew their ears. Something ancient, something primal deep within everything present, the inherited memories of the dragons who came before them hidden in the depths of their genes told them to run.

Not turn around like the band of fools they were.

It was close to them now, close enough for the details to be seen in the light of the waxing moon.

It was almost a pony in much the same way a peanut is almost a potato.

That is, they may have both had superficial differences, and nothing else in common.

It had four legs, one of which was dragging a raw smear into the ground. Lame and twisted.

It had two eye sockets in its exposed skull. A green light, an acidic hue glowing from somewhere deep within. There were no teeth in its empty grin, just small chunks of some kind that would rise and burst and bleed into the metal fused into its jaw.
It stepped forward, the pitted metal rust red and red with rust groaned ominously where skin had tried to grow over it. And tore. Filth stained the cement, an indelible mark.

Something green and glowing surfaced visibly in its throat and Garble panicked.

He threw the baby dragon in his hand at the thing and ran. Completely ignoring his wings. Forgetting his fire.

All that mattered was getting away.

Near the end of the road he heard the screaming stop, only to realize it had been his own voice. He chanced a moment to turn around.

And immediately regretted it.

Some things. Tendrils. Tentacles. Feelers. Things were coming out of the monsters neck and holding on to the baby dragon. Pulling his own victim down its throat, mindless of the flames and claws struggling to escape.

Garble turned away.

He refused to regret living.

Author's Note:
You'd almost think I was writing a zombie story here.
Why yes, I have played Bloodborne. Why do you ask?


Well-Known Member
Chapter Nine

-Disclaimer: Hasbro owns all recognizable characters, most unrecognizable characters, and no, I'm not profiting off of this.

There was a pounding at the door. Great heavy blows slamming into it.

Twilight turned over in her bed.

The slamming increased in intensity. Dust shook loose from the ceiling.

Twilight buried herself deeper into the blankets.

"Twilight Sparkle!" A great voice thundered from below. The pony in question jolted up from her bed before immediately falling out of in in a pile of blankets. "We require your presence!"

She disentangled herself in a flash.


And bolted down the wooden stairs. She threw open the triangular red door to her home as another great knock rang against it. A regal pony stood in the darkness of her doorway, one hoof poised to knock once more against her door.

Hers was a coat of indigo hue, her mane a shimmering field of starlight drifting on an aetherial wind. More than just her towering size, her very air, her stature was the refined intimidation of the warriors of eld.

"Princess Luna?!" Twilight stepped back from her door, allowing the princess of the night into her home. "What's going on?"

"We, that is, I, had hoped you would have received our message Princess Twilight. The hour is late and the matter most dire." The dark princess stepped into the middle of the main room, her eyes scanning the walls.

"I haven't been receiving any letters from Canterlot lately. What did you need to tell me?" She wasn't really sure how to broach the fact that Spike had left.

"With young Spike having taken his leave, I suppose conventional mail would be too unreliable for these matters." A book floated from the wall before the princess. It opened to a random page near the middle before slamming shut and replacing itself. The princess sighed, her bearing cracked. "Very well, Twilight. The core of the matter then. In the eastern border of our realm have been troubling reports."

Twilight wasn't surprised she knew. It had been mentioned (at length) in the last report she'd sent regarding the bug hunt she'd been away on.

"What kind of reports, Princess?"

"The worst kind young Twilight. Foul magic. Dark magic." Mist coalesced before the princess before molding into an illusion. A suit of armor, old armor stood before the princess. Black iron polished until it was shining. Green light gleaming from the visor. "From our initial report, this is the form it took when it first manifested."

Twilight walked around the image, committing what she could to memory.

"This thing was seen exiting a train carriage. All passengers were accounted for, they reached their destinations safe and hale. One was an anomaly, however his potential contribution has been discounted." The image warped before twisting into something else altogether. Before it had been whole, though eerie, this was not. The left hind leg had been completely removed, so too was the helmet. Four great gashes marred the peytral and the metal was showing obvious signs of rust.

Then there was the flesh.

Twilight did her very best not to gag as she saw the muscle tissue growing out of the holes in the armor. The off white bone poking out of places it had no business being.

"What is this thing?" Luna had a much easier time hiding her disgust. Or at least repressing her need to revisit dinner.

"We are uncertain. It bears no true resemblance to any of the unliving we are familiar with. The armor it once was has been determined to be metal pulled from the train itself. Whatever magic created this thing imbued it with the ability to adapt its form. At this stage of its development we know that it consumed a relatively insignificant amount of wildlife on the path to its destination."

A bear, some over-curious squirrels and a bird that was already dead. Each significant in their own way, though readily lost in the macrocosm of nature.

"So this thing, it's carnivorous?" Twilight attempted to look down the neck of the thing. The glow was far too intense for her to be certain, but she thought she saw something... Beating.

"We cannot be certain. This is currently the only other image we've managed to find of this creature. An unfortunately accurate depiction from the nightmares of a young colt in Manehatten. It was encountered at the southern edge of the farmland outside the city." The illusion dispersed once more into mist. The discomfort in the depths of Twilights gut with it.

"It did not move to attack the poor foal, nor did it make any move to follow him as he fled. No distinct hunting pattern or territory have been discovered. Our current speculation suggests these were victims of opportunity, or else necessity."

"This abomination was not flesh and blood such as we Twilight. It was magic, and solely magic. Now it is more than it was, and we have no way in determining its purpose."

"So tell me, Twilight. What is magic?" The purple pony stood at attention, a smile on her face as she answered.

"Friendship!" The princess of the night gave the young unicorn a gentle smile. She leaned down to meet Twilight's eyes evenly.

"Not quite, my little pony. Unlike the briefing I gave you though, that lesson must wait until you"

"Wake up."
Twilight shot up in her bed, her wings spread out in fear as she looked around her room.

Crystal walls, crystal windows. Bed far too large. Alicorn standing in front of a window and looking out over Ponyville.

"Friendship is magic, Princess Twilight Sparkle. We do not argue this, for it is a magic we hold most dear. But magic, Twilight-"

"Is the ability to manipulate reality to meet our wants and needs, internally and externally. The most basic magic, available freely to each and everypony as well as every member of every sapient species, is imagination." The purple princess finished.

"Quite right, Twilight." Luna turned her head to focus one eye upon Twilight, still in her bed. "I need you to ready yourself quickly. We make for Fillydelphia soon."


Waking up was difficult, it felt like a leaden anchor dragging on his mind.

But the sun was up, burning away at painfully sensitive eyes.

He needed to get up. He had to... To.

Today was a day off, he wasn't in any rush. He could take his time.

He struggled to get to his feet, swaying drunkenly to his left before falling over.

The world was starting to come into a blurry focus.

This wasn't his room.

His claws scrabbled ineffectively to gain purchase against the cracked pavement beneath him. To push himself up.

He looked down to see why he couldn't grab anything.

And saw hooves.

And screamed.

Author's Note:
I actually had the previous chapter done last night.
Idiot that I is, I forgot to hit publish. Whoops.


Well-Known Member
Chapter Ten

Disclaimer: I do not own My Little Pony, nor am I profiting off this literary venture.

Purple hooves brushed against the fur on his face.



This was (Everything he dreamed of!) wrong!

He was a (Pony) dragon! He was supposed to have claws and scales and spines!

Not (Yes!) hooves or fur or... Or...

A horn.

He needed answers. He needed answers to questions he didn't even know how to ask.

He had to hope that this (Was) wasn't permanent. That this could (Not) be reverted.

His emerald eyes went wide as he stared at his reflection in the store front window. He placed his hooves over his ears and whimpered, a low, keening noise.

He could hear something (Himself) whispering in his mind. It wasn't the greed. He knew the greed. It wasn't a subtle little thing, begging him to take.

More and more, never satisfied. (Envious and brutish. Undignified.)

He struggled to his hooves, his legs shaking. (First the back, then the front. I've got this!) One hoof before the other, he started moving. He managed a few paces before spotting something glinting brass in a mixed puddle of red and yellowgreen.

The smell was nauseating. (Blood and sick.) His key was in the middle of it though. He carefully tried to pick it up a few times, futiley poking it around the mess before he felt something click and he managed to grasp the little piece of metal.

It was a start, he could work with this. (He had to.)


Not a single glance was spared for him as he travelled back to the bakery. It was unsettling, he was used to furtive glances and curious stares. Not even in Ponyville had that aspect of his existence faded.

He wasn't sure if it was nice (It is. I can be another face in the crowd now.) or not.

Letting that thought fade to the back of his mind, he stood to the side of the line in the bakery. He made an act of browsing the menu (The blueberry muffins look better today, for some reason.) while he waited for the last patron to leave.

"You gonna pick somethin' kid, or you gonna get out?" He hadn't even noticed the pegasus leave.

"Actually Mr.Lemon, I need to get some stuff out of my room." The other unicorn wore a bemused look, gazing over the new unicorn in front of him.

"You're gonna have to refresh my memory kid. I don't know any half-grown blank-flank colts anymore."

"Mr.Lemon, it's me, Spike." The elder unicorn stepped out from behind the counter. Spike backed up to the wall as his employer fixed him him with a frigid, searching stare until their noses were practically touching.

The open sign flipped over to closed.

"I want an explanation. Now. In the kitchen." Mr.Lemon spun on a hoof, marching into the back room. Spike took a moment longer, he needed to compose himself. He'd noticed there was something...

Hard. Cold wasn't the right word.

Inside the old unicorn. He hadn't thought it to be so frightening, before.

"At least you're no coward, boy." Spike wished he was. The unicorn was sitting, perfectly calm while the bakery around him worked through magic alone. It was chaos. (It was beautiful)

"So what's the story, huh. Some lost changeling, I'm guessing?" He seated himself across from the baker, marveling at the work around him.

"N-no, I'm a dragon! I was a dragon. I('m a unicorn!) don't know. I got in a fight with some other dragons last night and this..." Spike stopped talking.

He started trembling.

He didn't know why he was crying.

He nearly jumped when he felt the a hoof moving up and down his back.

"Garble threw me at this thing. It just showed up and smelled like blood. It had me before I knew what was happening. It was pulling me into it and it didn't matter how hard I fought. I- there was green light inside of it. That's all I remember of it."

The crushing pressure, the smell of burning flesh and stale rot, the slick pain where it grabbed him. He didn't want to remember that.

"Then I woke up, like, a block away. I started freaking out actually." A trifle was placed in front of Spike, just a little tart really. Grabbing it was an afterthought. He was barely aware he was biting it.

"Whoah. Mr.Lemon, this is really good." He'd finished before he knew it and looked up, his boss sitting across from him again. He wore a pensive look.

"What were you planning to do, Spike?" The dra-Unicorn hesitated. He didn't want to sound ungrateful.

"I was going to get my bits from upstairs, whatever else I could carry and get a train ticket to Ponyville. I know Princess Twilight Sparkle, she's-"

"The princess of Friendship and the Element of Magic of the mythical Elements of Harmony. If you know her, I suppose that makes you that Spike, the one who did those things up north."

"You knew?"

"I suspected. You didn't bring it up and I didn't figure it was my job to drag up your history. Do you know how many dragons here are named Spike? Counting you, I've met five. Get on up there, I can at least see my favorite employee off." The harmony of the kitchen paused for a moment as Spike rushed around the table to hug the gruff old pony before running out to trip up the stairs.


Two ponies stepped off the first class train car, Alicorns the both of them. At Luna's request there had been no service, merely silence as she had dozed for the entirety of the trip.

Twilight hadn't minded in the slightest, she'd been busy compiling notes of the scant few observations she'd made in the dream the night before.

Further back, at a coach car, one unicorn with saddlebags loaded with books and pastries got on while an older unicorn waved him off with a few brief words of encouragement.

Note to TFF: Seems to be a formatting problem switching between here and Fimfiction. The rest of this is over there, you can find it by clicking on the number of the chapter at the beginning of every post.


Well-Known Member
Chapter 2

This line
[font=Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif]His caretaker, he dared not think her name lest his flagging heart wilt further at the thought of her anxiety, her fear and disappointment, was equally third-eye blind.[/font]
The end comparison could use a little bit of fine-tuning. The third eye is tangentially related to foresight but as a metaphor seems lacking in this instance, not least because it's also something that'll fly over most people's head.
The segment with the unicorn thief is a little bit confusing. It's obvious after you read it that he's a thief, but Spike just seems to sort of amble up to him for no real reason and then woah, suddenly Spike's talking about how his stuff looks like it's been pilfered. Have Spike observe something earlier that allows the reader to clue in as well and a little bit more on the other ponies who are starting to  realise this guy is a thief.